About a month ago, I replaced my credit card because of the Vendini security breach (see Credit card identity theft), which caused some spurious Amazon transactions to appear on my bill. There were also a number of transactions with a local business (Aptos Natural Foods) where we have never shopped, so I challenged those as well. I just got my first bill for the new card, and there were three new transactions for Aptos Natural Foods on it! I could not figure out reasonable ways that anyone could have gotten the new numbers so quickly. Only a few merchants (whom I trusted) had the new number!
I talked with my wife (whose card had been used) and called Citi Cards, and we eventually came up with the conjecture that these were valid transactions that my wife had made at the Food Bin (just a few blocks from where we live), but credited to a different company. We were used to seeing a few Food Bin transactions on our bill, and there were none. My wife found some Food Bin receipts and they matched the charges in date and amount.
Citi Cards called the Food Bin and found that they had indeed merged management with Aptos Natural Foods (at about the time that they got new cash registers) and were aware that the credit card transactions would appear on bills as Aptos Natural Foods.
But they had never told their credit card customers, nor could I find any news items about the merger in the local papers.
I removed the disputes on the charges and will pay them in full, but I am rather miffed with the Food Bin for the incompetent way they handled their change of billing. It is imperative that any business accepting credit cards tell their customers how the charges will appear on their bills, especially when there is a change from a decades-old practice! A brief notice on the counter would have been enough—or having “billed as Aptos Natural Foods” on the receipt.
I will say that working with the customer service agent at Citi Cards was about as pleasant as dealing with a billing problem could be. There was no hold before being transferred to the service agent, and the person I talked to was both competent and friendly. She found the Food Bin phone number while talking with me and called them while putting me on a brief hold, so that she could clear the confusion up right away. So far, I have found the Citi Simplicity card to be a much better deal than the AT&T Universal Card that it replaced (dealing with AT&T customer service was never pleasant, and they had the most Byzantine way of charging late fees and interest for 3 months after missing one payment by one day).